Spanish Plein-Air

A group of artists from Creative World Project of Viacheslav Zarenkov left for Spain right before May holidays – a time when it is already warm but still not so hot, and nature boastfully rejoices blossoming with bright new greenery.

This time, the Spanish Plein-air that gathered together twelve St. Petersburg artists from Creative World Project of Viacheslav Zarenkov was held in Valencia.

Valencia, being the third city after Madrid and Barcelona in number of citizens, is a very attractive historical center and a magnificent city of sights. In particular, the Holy Grail kept in a gothic cathedral with a bell tower built by El Miguelete is officially recognized by the Catholic Church headed by the Pope (unlike the mysterious Templar Bowl).

However, the city is not only known for its historical value. One of the most distinguished examples of modern architecture the City of Arts and Sciences designed by an architect Santiago Calatrava is located there. The City resides a gallery garden, a planetarium, a science museum, an oceanarium and an opera theatre.

The Opera Theatre, Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts, looks more like a combat helmet. Some people even see it as a giant eye. However, the architect meant to create the Palace of Arts as a symbol of an ajar shell inside of which the art rests like a pearl. At that, the roof central element has only two support points – in the very beginning and in the middle, the rest part of the roof looks seems just hanging in the air.

An opera hall for 1500 seats is the heart of the Theatre. Some members of the Creative World Project were lucky to visit the theatre. That day, Idomeneo by Mozart was performed.

Each seat in a navy sea-like hall is equipped with an individual screen at the back of the seat standing in front the seat one sits in (that is where libretto in Spanish, English or an original language is streamed upon a spectator’s choice, which is rather convenient). It`s a pity there was no libretto in our native Russian, we have to admit.

After Valencia, the group of artists left for Cuenca – a well-preserved medieval town. The first Spanish Gothic Cathedral is situated at Plaza Mayor there. Though, a most unforgettable impression you get from Casas Colgadas or hanged houses with wooden balconies growing out of a rock literally situated on the brink of the River Uekar. They say houses of such kind were a usual part of a town architecture in ancient times.

Madrid, one of the most stunning capitals not only in Europe but also in the whole world, was the next destination of our journey.

The most important sight of the city is the Golden Triangle of Art that includes the Prado National Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum (a collection of modern art paintings) and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It is said for a reason that if you did not visit the Prado Museum, then you probably did not visit Madrid at all.

Madrid is also well known for its enormous bullring Las Ventas. Bullfights attracting thousands of bullfights lovers from all over the world take place right there.

Corrida for Spain is not only a bloody performance. It is an art and a theatre. Moreover, of course, it is a tradition.

For several years since their childhood, Spanish boys dreaming to become toreros attend tauromachy – a school where they master this art. A real torero has to be courageous, strong-willed and balanced. Yet, the most important thing for torrero to be able to cope with the fear of death. They usually start fighting with small bulls of one year old only, then – with two- or three-year-old ones. And only after that, may a successful student be ordained a matador – he will face a fight with a bull older than 4 years old and weighing over 600 kg.

Corrida is not about killing a bull. It is rather a performance on the brink of the life and death bound to be a spectacular one. Assistants of a matador – banderilleros –stick colored darts into a bull's wither to make the beast even more furious. An equestrian picador stabs the bull`s neck with special peaks. Then a matador plays with the bull and slaughters it. The fight is equal. A bull has all the chances to kill or hurt a torero. Moreover, such situations do sometimes occur. A renowned matador Juan Jose Padilla lost his eye in an unlucky fight. A horrible video of that corrida has been shown all over the world. Nevertheless, several months later, the brave Spaniard summoned all his strength to come back to the ring – and he continues his career as a torero up to these days.

A torero who defeats a bull in an honest fight, apart from money and fame, also gets a bull`s ear from Corrida President. If the performance is great, then a torero gets two bull’s ears, and if it is an outstanding one, then a torero gets a bull’s tail as well. The winner walks a loop of honor holding these trophies up. The bravest matadors are carried on shoulders of their assistants away from the bullring. But if the audience does not like a torero, if he proves himself to be a coward, keeps a huge distance to the bull, or, at worse, runs away from the bull, then he is hissed and drawn away with shame, and he is unlikely to appear on the bullring a second time.

The most important fight series of the year honoring of St. Isidore town holidays is held in May. However, when our group arrived, the holiday did not start yet, so we did not get to see corrida. Though, it is difficult to say that anyone was quite disappointed about it.

After Madrid, the artists left for Toledo – a city with a well-preserved medieval downtown and a maze of winding cobbled streets. Toledo is also famous due to the fact that El Greco lived and worked there for several years. Here, St. Petersburg artists painted their paintings overlooking the primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo of 15th century, Roman amphitheater and the Castle of San Servando.

The artists spent one day of the Plein-air in Avila. The town constructed of granite is primarily famous because Saint Teresa of Avila was born there. She lived in the days of Cervantes, in 16th century, preached all over Spain, studied theology and founded seventeen nunneries of Barefoot Carmelites. Teresa of Avila is also known as the first Spanish female writer and an author of mystical writings. Grounding on spiritual experience she got in the Nunnery, Teresa wrote five books, a number of poems and many letters that produced a significant influence on forming of Spanish literary language. Among other pieces of Spanish literature, Autobiography by Teresa of Avila is only second to Don Quixote in the number of translations into foreign languages. In 20th century, Dmitriy Merezhkovskiy who was interested in the theme of mysticism devoted a part of the Spanish Mysteries Trilogy to Teresa’s activities.

Then, the artists from the Creative World Project went to Salamanka. One of the oldest universities in Europe that was founded in XII century is situated there. Salamanka is also connected with the name of Christopher Columbus – in 1486, right before his expedition to America, the great traveler spent a night in Saint Stephen Cathedral.

The artists also attended the ancient Monasterio de Piedra founded by Alphonse II along with thirteen Cistercian monks, preachers of Christianity, in the 12th century. This place is especially attractive due to its amazing nature – people say that it is the most beautiful place in Spain decorated with waterfalls, craves and ponds.

On their way to Monasterio de Piedra, the artists stopped in Segovia where they could admire the famous Roman aqueduct towering above the town and the Alcazar of Segovia (the Castle of Segovia) – one of the most wonderful residencies of Spanish rulers.

Barcelona was the final destination of the artists` trip. The city amazed them with its great feast of colors, lights and architecture.

Closing up the Spanish Plein-air, the inauguration of the exposition Spain through the Eyes of Russian Artists Exhibition took place in the exposition hall of House of Russia in Barcelona on May 11, 2016.

The exhibition included the works of Eugenyi Antipov, Alexandr Grishin, Angélica Grishina, Lev Dutov, Dimitryi Egupov, Alexandr Zagoskin, Latif Kazbekov, Tigran Malkhasyan, Valeryi Mironov, Tatiana Muliko, Ivan Tarasyuk, Oleg Kharchenko.

The exhibition drew attention of many visitors. Joseph Waltz Creus, President of Santiago Andreu Artists Association, and Fermin Colomer, President of World Palette International Association, highly estimated the masterpieces presented.

Vice Consul of Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Barcelona, Viktor Petrakov, underlined the importance of such international cultural events like the Creative World Project organized by the Viacheslav Zarenkov.